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Deputy Editor Elizabeth Ohene
"Around Africa, Robin White has become a household name"
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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
BBC Africa's Robin White honoured
Robin White MBE
Robin White MBE (right) shows off his magazine
The Editor of the BBC World Service's daily English programmes for Africa, Robin White has been honoured by the Queen, for his outstanding contribution to the World Service.

This award is a fitting recognition of his outstanding professionalism, experience and commitment

BBC World Service Director, Mark Byford
He has been awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours - one of several categories of honours given to British and Commonwealth citizens to recognise exceptional and outstanding work in various fields of endeavour.

Robin has become well-known across Africa for his hard-hitting and probing interviews with politicians and other public figures from the African continent on the BBC's African Service.

Speaking of the honour, the Director of the BBC World Service Mark Byford said: "I'm sure I speak for us all when I say Robin is one of the all time greats of the World Service and a cornerstone of our success story in Africa."

We have survived wind and rain, always there in times of need. Long may the African Service survive

Robin White MBE
"This award is a fitting recognition of his outstanding professionalism, experience and commitment," Mr Byford added.

Reacting to the news of the award, Robin himself paid tribute to his programmes for the honour.

"This award really demonstrates the value of both Focus and Network Africa which have been a constant companion for people in Africa over the years," he said.

"We have survived wind and rain, always there in times of need. Long may the African Service survive," he added.

Many talents

Robin White
Robin White: Reported to have become tongue-tied when colleagues found out
Robin Peter White was born in Nottingham some 56 years ago and his association with Africa spans more than 30 years.

After completing a degree in Cambridge, he travelled to Cameroon as a VSO - Voluntary Service Overseas - where for a period he worked on building a clinic and a school before teaching in a girls school in Bamenda.

He joined the BBC soon after as a producer in the late 1960s and has worked with the organisation almost all his adult life.

He is also the Editor of the Focus on Africa magazine which he launched in the early 1990s.

He has had successful stints working on Educational Television and Kaleidoscope. Robin White is also an award-winning playwright whose plays have been published and broadcast by the BBC.

Robin remains an avid jogger whose dedication to fitness is only surpassed by the love of his job.

A few months ago, he was knocked down by a car at a pedestrian crossing whilst jogging.

Thankfully he suffered only a dislocated shoulder and quickly returned to work with his arm in a sling, after a very brief spell in hospital.

Politicians' pain

Under his guidance Focus on Africa and Network Africa have established a reputation for being the programmes that people tune into for reliable, unbiased news about what is happening across the African continent, especially in times of crisis.

Politicians regularly call the programmes to get their version of events on record. In 1989 one of the first things rebel leader Charles Taylor did after reaching the Liberian capital, Monrovia was to call Focus on Africa. He is now president.

During the recent Sierra Leone crisis one well-known caller told of a demonstration taking place outside his house.

The person in question was RUF rebel leader Foday Sankoh, and the demonstration was against his policies.

During his BBC career, Robin has interviewed many British and African politicians, including Robert Mugabe while he was struggling to overthrow Ian Smith, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Nigeria¿s President Obasanjo while in London recently.

Other more controversial interviews were with Milton Obote of Uganda and Lady Thatcher, prior to her visit Africa in 1989.

Mr Robin White, MBE, lives in South London with his partner of many years Mary Restiaux and their teenage daughter, Holly.

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See also:

16 Jun 00 | Birthday Honours 2000
Guide to the Honours
16 Jun 00 | Birthday Honours 2000
MBEs: L - Z
16 Jun 00 | Birthday Honours 2000
Diplomatic and Commonwealth
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